Lithuania presidential hopefuls: tone down Russia rhetoric

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuanians are choosing a new president in a runoff vote between two candidates who both say they want to maintain a strict tone toward neighboring Russia while easing sometimes harsh rhetoric.

Gitanas Nauseda, a prominent economist, and Ingrida Simonyte, a former finance minister, are vying to succeed the popular Dalia Grybauskaite, who has called Russia “a terrorist state.”

Both candidates in this NATO member have said they won’t go to Moscow and meet President Vladimir Putin unless Russia withdraws from Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

That move sparked fears that other former Soviet republics, including the Baltic states, could be next.

The campaign ahead of Sunday’s second round has been dominated by voters’ anger over economic inequality — one of the highest in the European Union — and corruption.

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